Weve all been waiting for a killer appliance for digital text.
Surely, someone would do for text what iPod did for music: create an exquisite “must have piece of hardware and software that made reading on the screen the pleasure it is on the page.
The eBook from Gemstar was so bad, they gave up. Tablet PCs are too big, and PDAs are too small. Sony is launching the EBR-1000 Librie eBook reader. A fellow blogger says, ‘this product will go down in Sonys vault for stupid, expensive ideas. At least it’s so small it should fit. A second blogger says, “a great innovation trashed by an idiotic implementation rendering it practically useless.
Microsoft might have used its deep pockets to make a difference. But depressing news today from the NYT. It reviews the Personal Media Center from Microsoft. Apparently, the PMC cant read.
To make sure, I went to the Microsoft website:
Portable Media Centers put all of your favorite video, music, and pictures at your fingertips wherever you are. Take digital entertainment from your computer with you on the go, including recorded TV shows, downloaded videos, home movies, music, and photos.
Really? Everything but text? Nice going. The iRiver appliance (above) looks like it could handle text. Too bad, it wont be able too.
I do appreciate that Microsoft does not make appliances, killer or otherwise. And I appreciate that the PMC software is designed to run on cell phones, not perhaps the best place to read War and Peace. I also understand that Microsoft created Reader, which is smarter and better than Adobes Acrobat, and that they gave us Clear Type which was welcome too.
But this is a huge market opportunity. We all want print made available to us with iPod grace and simplicity. Clearly, more people need to carry text than music. The numbers are staggering. Last year 15.3 million students attended college classes.
If Apple and IBM wont step up, perhaps its time for Microsoft to show a little leadership. It wouldnt be hard to insource the hardware design and outsource the manufacture.
An opportunity is a terrible thing to waste. Especially this one.
Pogue, David. 2004. From Microsoft, A First Take. New York Times, September 2, 2004 here (subscription)
The Sony review from dottocomu here
The second Sony review from cinquero here
PMC info from Microsoft here
college attendance stat here
With apologies to Beggin Strips.